Facebook hires a former Obama advisor as vice president for civil rights

Roy Austin Junior, a former advisor to Barack Obama who served through the Justice Department and then the White House, joins the ranks of Facebook. He will serve as vice president, civil rights, reporting directly to Facebook General Counsel Jennifer Newstead.

A vice president for civil rights on Facebook

Roy Austin Junior spoke about his new role. He said: “I am very excited to be joining Facebook at this point when we feel that there is a national and global civil rights revival. New technologies play a role in almost every area of ​​our lives and it is important that they be used to overcome, rather than exacerbate, the historical discrimination and hatred that so many underrepresented groups have faced. “

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The tone is set, Roy Austin Junior’s mission is very clear: to fight racism within Facebook. The social media giant has chosen to hire a vice president for civil rights to improve its management on this issue, which is a regular concern. As an assistant attorney general, Roy Austin Junior must put in place a solid civil rights strategy. In its blog post, the company does not disclose the full scope and goals of this attitude.

A necessary recruitment

The appointment of a vice president for civil rights is not an accident. In fact, this summer Facebook was the victim of a huge boycott from major advertisers like Coca-Cola, Honda, Starbucks or even Ben & Jerry’s. The reason ? They responded to the call of several associations that wanted to fight against racist and hateful content. A campaign called “Stop Hate For Profit”. The aim was clearly to influence the revenue of Facebook, which, according to associations, is not sufficiently involved in the fight against the spread of hateful, racist or violent content.

Facebook had already been accused of racism by one of its employees in 2019. While remaining anonymous, this agent said, “Facebook still has a problem with black people. Inside we are sad. Angry. Suppressed. Depressed. And treated with different attacks every day as if we were out of place here. “You will understand that the new Vice President for Civil Rights will have work.

Sheryl Sandberg, COO at Facebook: “While Facebook has indeed made progress in this area, the company still has a long way to go.” A statement after the failure of an examination on this issue of racism precisely. The authors of that review found that Facebook executives had “made decisions with real consequences that represent serious setbacks to civil rights.”

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